Ready for anything, Dr. Alvear’s first case today was off schedule and without batting an eye he was completely prepared for a baby boy delivered in the wee hours of the morning diagnosed with gastroschisis. The newborn was actually born with an abdominal wall defect called an omphalocele in which the intestines, liver, and occasionally other organs remain outside the abdomen in a sac and is associated with a high mortality rate (25%) and severe malformations. Once again WSF stepped in with God’s hands and saved another life because Dr. Alvear happened to bring a “silo” which is a plastic pouch to gently squeeze the intestines and other organs into the belly. I later spoke with Dr. Alvear who said that he sees these “surgical mission surprises” and is always prepared for such cases. He also performed a colon interposition today. It is rare that a surgeon might encounter two of these procedures in his or her whole career and Dr. Alvear has done one in the first two days and expects to two more by the end of the week.
The most anticipated procedure of the day was an eight-year-old boy who was having reconstructive surgery on his ear, in which Dr. Leber took a piece of cartilage from his ribs and created a perfect ear where there were just bumps and malformations that looked nothing like an ear before. Video and before and after shots were priority for us today, because how the whole thing went was spectacular. Witnessing this is the most moving and special opportunity I have ever been gifted. I may be redundant, but it feels so huge to be a part of this mission. The sheer medical brilliance and gifted staff makes me wonder why only a few special doctors of this caliber have taken their time and spent their own money to participate. If only the rest of the world could see all that is being done here, I know that WSF doctors and volunteers would be unstoppable in helping these people.
For some reason the general surgeons are booked solid with gallbladders and decided on alternating back and forth. I wonder if there is something specific about Hondurans and their gallbladders or if it’s the same everywhere. There just seems to be an unbelievable number of gallbladders that Dr. Rovito and Dr. Delone are repairing laparoscopically or removing the organ altogether. They worked together on the last case because of a complication during a previous gallbladder surgery where Dr. Delone spent three hours on one patient. Dedicated but making the general surgeons’ already long day even longer.
I haven’t mentioned much about what’s going on in the vascular OR because their first few cases took much longer than expected. Dr. Campbell brought some of his own supplies, as he explained to me on the bus ride to the hospital this morning. He uses a Gore-Tex product to recreate femoral veins in patients whose vascular system has completely lost accessibility for IV’s after years of dialysis or multiple IV use. One was a young woman who had been on dialysis for years and at only ten needed to have a new femoral vein created by using veins in the opposites legs reattaching them with the Gor-Tex vein. She will have a fully functioning vascular system in hours thanks to the excellent work of Dr. Karima Fitzgerald and Dr. Joe Campbell. The vascular room always includes the awesome anesthesiology of Luis Lara or Dr. “Eskor” Inyang.
The ORs are always rocking out with great music as many surgeons prefer operating while music is playing, maybe to help them relax and get into the magic of what they are doing. When Dr. Rovito stepped in on a small bowel evisceration he put his iPod speakers on immediately before scrubbing in. Ironically playing Guns N’ Roses “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”… I commented on the irony of his choice of music and he responded, “He’s just tappin’ that’s all, he won’t be seeing heaven’s doors anytime soon… certainly not on my watch!”